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GHSA to move to six classes by 2012

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

ALBANY -- Is six better than five?

The Georgia High School Association thinks so.

The GHSA rejected one plan and approved another Tuesday to reclassify its 443 member schools into six classes instead of five, potentially shaking up regions all over the state. The new system is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2012.

"If I had my preference, I would have stayed with the five classifications,'' said Monroe athletic director and football coach Charles Truitt, who felt the new ruling benefits Atlanta and schools in the northern part of Georgia. "I don't know how it will benefit the schools down in this part of the state. The schools below Macon have to adjust to it.''

Truitt said he would have been in favor of the "4-8 plan" that was voted down Tuesday. The GHSA rejected the 4-8 plan by a vote of 15-35.

The 4-8 plan would have divided competition into four classes, but there would have been two state tournaments (a high and low) in each class. Four teams from each region would qualify for the state tournaments, but they would be split and there would be two state champions in each class -- hence eight state champs.

Texas has a similar system in which there are five classes with 10 state champs crowned in each sport.

A big question, meanwhile, is this: Who goes where and how will the regions be affected?

There were speculations Tuesday, but nothing will be decided until the GHSA looks at the new enrollment numbers and adjusts the regions in October.

"No one really knows who we are playing in the region until the numbers come out in October,'' said Lee County football coach Dean Fabrizio, whose Class AAAA Trojans will likely now be in Class AAAAA. "I do think it's a good idea to have six classes in the state. The number of schools we have calls for six classes.''

Lee County had its region overhauled in the past year when two Class AAAAA schools from Warner Robins moved into Region 1-AAAA last year, including Northside, Warner Robins, the preseason No. 1 ranked football team in Georgia.

"There's no telling where we will end up,'' Fabrizio said. "We'll line up and play whoever we have to play.''

The vote was close. The GHSA's Executive Committee voted 26-24 in favor of the expansion to six classes, which will have a greater affect on Atlanta area schools and the schools in the northern part of the state.

"It's really a growth issue,'' said Johnny Seabrooks, the Dougherty County Director of Athletics. "In the north they are opening new schools every year. We don't have the same growth issue in the south.

"I'm not the one to answer (if it's a good idea or not). I've heard some complaints about the five classifications and whether it was fair or not.''

The four public schools in Dougherty County will likely have a slight shift under the new classes. Albany High will move from Class AA to Class AAA and Monroe and Westover will move from Class AAA to Class AAAA. Dougherty High will have a decision to make, because the Trojans, who have been a Class AA school for the last three years, have been competing in Region 1-AAA. The new classification will place Dougherty in Class AAA, while city rivals Monroe and Westover move up to Class AAAA.

"They will still have to choice to play up (in classification) if they want to,'' Seabrooks said. "That's up to (Dougherty).''

Worth County, which competes in Region 1-AAA, won't move to Class AAAA with Westover and Monroe, and will likely end up in the same Class AAA region with Albany. But Class AA power Thomasville will likely stay at Class AA instead of moving up with Albany.

There's speculation Class AAAA powerhouse Thomas County Central won't move up with Lee County and Bainbridge, and will stay in Class AAAA to compete in the same region with Monroe and Westover.

"We're losing two (Dougherty and Worth) and gaining one (Thomas County Central) in the region,'' Truitt said. "We'll adjust to it.''

The new six classification system will break down classes based on percentages. The top two classes (AAAAA and AAAA) will both consists of 15 percent of the schools, while Class AAAA, AAA and AA will be based on 16 percent. Class A will consists of 22 percent because there are many small schools who do not field football teams.